Jan 26th, 2015
Media Advisory: Dalhousie students raise free speech wall on campus today
January 26, 2015
Dalhousie students will raise a Free Speech Wall on Dal campus today. The wall will stand from 10:30AM Monday until 3:30PM, and Tuesday from 10:30AM to 2:30PM. The Dal Free Speech Wall is part of a campaign to raise awareness about free expression rights in Canada and is sponsored by the Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms (jccf.ca).
Over the course of the day students will invite their peers to express their thoughts and opinions on the wall, as an exercise of their free expression rights. They will hand out information about the state of free speech at Canadian public universities, measured in the Justice Centre’s 2014 Campus Freedom Index. The Index is the first report in Canada to measure and rank the state of free speech at Canadian public universities. With 208 grades awarded to 52 campuses, Canada’s universities and student unions in 2014 have received only five ‘A’ grades. Conversely ‘F’ grades were earned 33 times: 14 times by universities, and 19 times by student unions. In total, there are 24 campuses that earned at least one ‘F’, assigned to the university or to its student union.
The 2014 Campus Freedom Index reports that at Dalhousie, free speech is under threat. Both the university and its student union earn an ‘F’ for failing to uphold free speech rights. Dalhousie University cancelled two lectures on grounds that the invited speakers, British MP George Galloway and American journalist Jared Taylor, were too controversial. The Dalhousie Student Union (DSU) slides to an ‘F’ this year because of its recent endorsement of the Divest Dal movement, which aims to see Dalhousie University end its investments in fossil fuels. In addition to this new venture into the realm of taking a political stance, the DSU also has policies requiring clubs to adhere to its mission and vision statements, and imposes restrictions on candidates and students campaigning during elections and referenda.
The Justice Centre hopes that this free speech wall will remind students, administrators and faculty at Dal that free expression should be celebrated, not condemned.